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Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency Year Seven: Case File No. 50-362

large black bear on trailcam April 13, 2024 1:43 AM, Silly the volkolak is closest before video triggers on

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Where We Left Off:

Was that an earthquake or kaiju rising underneath New Jersey? Gus, Oliver and the biographer debate.

Yogi vs Cujo:

The last time we had a case file about the volkolaks and New Jersey’s unreasonable black bear hunt was October 30, 2023. In that post and below all the data about the bears killed and whatever the NJDEP considers an “attack” on humans, there’s a paragraph about Silly, a bear we’ve seen live here since birth with his mother and sister.

2021 photo of Silly the bear / volkolak shapeshifter with his floppy left ear

If I sound like I don’t think a black bear would attack a human, it’s because it’s extremely unlikely. The only scenario I can think of would be if someone were camping or doing something else around delicious smelling food and the bear wanted that food, not the human. Humans are aggressive. Absolutely, you are going to defend your children and livestock and pets. I’ve done that. But what a black bear wants is easy access to food. That’s really it. Therefore, I don’t think any NJ black bears attacked humans out of the blue. They are nothing like grizzlies, polar bears, or the pizzly hybrids. They’re small compared to those too.

There’s probably some kind of sports metaphor in here…

“Dear god, don’t try to talk sports,” Oliver said.

“Shush, Ollie. Let her embarrass herself,” Gus said. He turned to me. “You were saying?”

badly photoshopped stock image of kids playing football; boy with "ball" which is a sandwich is being chased by "boy" who has a bear head. text and arrows for clarification


I suppose it could also be cubs who encounter children, but of course that’s not specified in statistics. Black bear cubs act a lot like large breed dogs. They don’t seem to understand their weight or strength. They do love climbing on stuff. If you are not expecting the strength of an 80-pound beast knocking you over—like when you enter someone’s home and they’re giant dog is too excited to get into your crotch—you’re going to get knocked down. Is that an “attack” on a human? Honestly, anything uninvited into my crotch is an attack.

Fun! With! Stats!

Fun Fact #1: There are an average of 43 deaths per year due to dog bites according to the CDC.

Fun Fact #2: “Over the last twenty years, wild black bears have killed twenty-four people across North America. That works out to 1.2 fatal attacks per year.” —Wide Open Spaces

The only black bear fatality in New Jersey was hiker, Darsh Patel in 2014 near West Milford. I’m not downplaying how horrible it is that Darsh lost his life. He was out trying to have a good day hiking with some friends.

Oliver said, “It’s definitely not as bad as the ratio of human kills to shark slaughtering.”

Gus quickly interjected, “Don’t get her started on sharks, for gods’ sake. We’ll be here all day.”

“You are correct, Ollie,” I said. “Humans kill millions of sharks each year while sharks kill less than ten humans per year.” I knew I could get off on a tangent and stayed focused on the bears.

The Bottom Line: Dogs are more likely to kill you than black bears. And human males are more likely to kill you than dogs so feel free to ponder that next time your state Fish & Wildlife proposes laws about “dangerous” animals that need to be killed.

Our Joyous Discovery

On April 13, 2024, trailcam #2 caught our beloved Silly on camera. At first I didn’t recognize him. He looked so much bigger than I remembered and I didn’t notice his signature injured, floppy left ear. Gus was tired from our excursion and went to nap. Oliver briefly came up to breathe in fresh air from an open window, but then he left me too. Plus, there was a ticking clock—literally. I had to leave for a yoga class on the day I collected was reviewing the footage.

I opened up the images in a bigger window and that’s when I gasped! That ear! That floppy ear! I’ve never been so happy to see an injury before. It’s the fastest way Gus and I have of identifying Silly.

In 2022, Gus had really wanted to become friends with Silly one hot afternoon, but The Grumpy Old Man was able to hold his leash while I took photos. See the video montage!


Just When You Think Humans Might Have Learned to Stay Away from Animals

I’m not exaggerating when I state that I sit in bed next to Gus reading the news through Flipboard and at least once a week read that a human has done something profoundly stupid, selfish, and dangerous. Usually, it involves the Bison of Yellowstone National Park. Once in a while, it’s an alligator.

This week, the Darwin Award goes to the Unnamed Selfish A-Holes of North Carolina who grabbed baby bear cubs from a tree in order to take selfies with them; then one of them dropped a squirmed, terrified cub and it ran away fearing for its life.

Video captures people pulling black bear cubs from trees for photos

The scene, captured on camera on Tuesday, shows roughly six people reaching into a tree to remove the cubs and bring them over a fence.

One woman appears to take a selfie with a cub, then drops it and chases after it as it tries to run away.

Ashley Hobbs, a biologist with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, said only one cub remained when she arrived, and described it as being very wet and cold.

The cub appeared unharmed, she said, and was transferred to a rehab facility.

This news comes from the Brandon Drenon of the BBC and was in many in other news sources. What makes this incident most infuriating is that the group was not even fined or given community service. They got a little lecture from Ashley Hobbs, the biologist, and they were allowed to leave.

In case this wasn’t clear: DO NOT DO THIS! Bear cubs are in trees for safety. It’s so their mothers know where they are. They are out of harm’s way (except from A-hole humans apparently). Mothers can leave them with food.

The same rules apply when if you find a baby bison or fawn hidden in the grass by itself. It’s mother put it there! Unless there are visible injuries, it is fine. Now if you are truly concerned—and that’s tremendously sweet—call your local Animal Control before doing anything. Who wouldn’t be tempted to touch something so magical like Lili in Legend? I would have too before learning why things are harmful. Just say no, humans.

1985 Legend, Lili (Mia Sara) touches the unicorn which is forbidden and launches the realm into chaos

Case Findings:

Our findings are simple—we have proof that Silly that still alive and using this as part of his territory. We don’t have any sightings of his sister Val or the other bears we’ve gotten to know through the years.

Case Status: Closed


Xu, J. (2023) QuickStats: Number of deaths resulting from being bitten or struck by a dog, by sex – national vital statistics system, United States, 2011–2021, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available at: (Accessed: 18 April 2024).

Hoffman, J. (2023) Fatal black bear attacks in North America over the last 20 years, Wide Open Spaces. Available at: (Accessed: 18 April 2024).

Drenon, B. (2024) Video captures people pulling black bear cubs from trees for photos, BBC News. Available at: (Accessed: 19 April 2024).


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